Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon of display of light from the bodies of some organisms. Generally most of us are known to ‘Jugnu’ or Firelies as a light emitting living being, but yes there are many more such organisms which have phenomenal exhibition of their unique talents. The bioluminescent organisms generally display the phenomenon because of luciferase enzyme but there are many other reasons too.
So, here is a list of 5 Least known Bioluminescent Organisms with a brief description about the mechanism of their luminescence. I hope you have a thoughtful read !
5 Least Known Bioluminescent Organisms
Railroad worm : Phrixothrix hirtus
Where to be found : The species is found in the central American regions, from USA to Chile in South America.
Bioluminescence : The female larva of a beetle displays beautiful and perfectly synchronized bioluminescence in the dark. The insect larva distinctively displays two coloured lights i.e. yellowish-green in its abdominal region and red in the head region. The bioluminescence in the insect is of course due to luciferase enzyme. This display is done as a warning signal to the insect’s predators.
Lantern fish : Myctophum punctatum
Where to be found : It is omnipresent marine fish which can dwell in temperate as well as tropical waters. It is more abundant in the Southern oceans.
Bioluminescence : The lantern fish displays a variety of colours such as blue, green and yellow by bioluminescence through the photophores present throughout its body and head. The exhibition of light is for communication purposes; also it is used as for courtship displays. At the same time the bright lights protect them from their predators such as squids and penguins.
You can also have a thoughtful read about 10 New Species discovered in 2017.
Quantula snail : Quantula striata
The Quantula snail is the only terrestrial snail that has bioluminescence. It eats anything to almost everything such as plant leaves, fruits, vegetables, dead organisms, boiled eggs and all.
Where to be found : The snail species is a resident of South-East Asia, i.e. humid tropical areas, so one can easily observe them in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Borneo and the adjoining countries.
Bioluminescence : The snail uses the light show mainly for communicating with other members of the species. The substance – flavin, present in the ‘organ of Haneda’ around the head and foot areas, is responsible for the illumination in the organism. The light show of yellow and green colours commences as the snail moves. Even its eggs and newly borne too possesses the bioluminescence.
Generally coral biodiversity is found in shallow depths near sea shores but the bioluminescent one is exceptionally found in deep depths upto 50-100m.
Where to be found : The bioluminescent corals are observed in deep waters of Red Sea.
Bioluminescence : The corals are known to be living in association with zooxanthellae, single celled dinoflagellate algae, as the photosynthetic functions are carried by them and corals provide them a dwelling space and protection. But in the deep sea waters, because of the lack of light (red and yellow wavelength), the zooxanthellae are not able to perform their functions. So, in order to help them, the coral captures the blue wavelengths and convert them into red, yellow and green which are then used by zooxanthellae for photosynthesis. All this mechanism is projected to us as a magnificent show of bioluminescence.
Arrow Worm : Caecosagitta macrocephala
This transparent marine predator is a deep dweller as found below 700m and is only 2.2 cm long. The Arrow worm possesses neurotoxins that help them to immobilize and hunt their prey.
Where to be found : Arrow worms are found in temperate oceans upto a depth of 200-5000m.
Bioluminescence : The worm has elongated tear like particles, present in perfectly arranged hexagonal chambers in the ventral edge of their anterior fins, which illuminates by the action of luciferase enzyme. A beautiful display of green and yellow lights in deep oceans has definitely astounded the divers.
So, this was my list of 5 Least known Bioluminescent Organisms. I’ll be back soon with part-II of the list with more organisms.
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